I think a majority of Australian people around my age read this book when they were in high school. It was hugely popular and for very good reasons. I read this book when I was in grade nine. I read more back then, than I do now. I used to curl up on my bed, book in hand and read for hours. I not only read “Tomorrow When the War Began” but I read every book in the series as soon as they came out. I guess you could say this was my “Harry Potter”.
The story begins with small group of friends Ellie Linton, Homer Yannos, Lee (whose surname is never mentioned), Kevin Holmes, Corrie Mackenzie, Robyn Mathers and Fi Maxwell who are getting ready to go on a week long camping trip to Hell (a mountainous national park). They kiss their families goodbye and head off for a week of fun only teenagers can understand. Once the week is over, the group returns to find an eerie and gruesome sight. Ellie the narrator of the book returns home to find her family missing and her pet dogs butchered. This is only the beginning of the horrors. They eventually realise with some interrogations that Australia has been invaded (by whom nobody is quite sure). Ellie and the rest of the group decide to return to Hell and start their own guerrilla campaign.
This plot may sound far-fetched but John Marsden makes you believe it. I remember lying on my bed wishing I was Ellie but at the same time knowing I could never handle being in her shoes. This is not only a story of a small group taking on a war, for me it was also a coming of age story. The teenagers realise they are no longer children and they are all their families/country have left.
This book was very intense when I read it, I’m sure if I read it now I would still feel the same. I recommend this book to everyone, young or old. Guys will like it for the action (even though the narrator is female) and the girls will enjoy it because they can relate to Ellie and the other female members of the group. Please read this book or give it to your older children to read; they won’t be disappointed.